David Lee Roth Didn’t Want To Compete With Van Halen, Steve Vai Implies

Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai talked about his time playing David Lee Roth during a recent appearance on BBC Radio.

As you may recall, David Lee Roth was the frontman of Van Halen between 1972-1984. After the departure of Van Halen, David Lee formed his solo band featuring Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, and Gregg Bissonette.

In the conversation, Steve stated that they had so much fun while playing with David Lee and revealed that they didn’t want to compete with Van Halen at all because it would be foolish.

While Steve was paying his tribute to Eddie Van Halen by praising his talent, he also mentioned that it would be a disaster if he tried to sound like Eddie. However, Steve took Eddie as an inspiration while playing with David Lee.

Here is what Steve Vai said:

“When the ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ thing came along, Dave was very wise to find musicians that he thought not just guitar player, but bass player and the drummer were pretty capable of their instruments.

And it allowed Billy and I to just do things that I think were pretty unconventional at the time.

But that was an era where people were really playing the shit out of their instruments, and we just took great pleasure in just taking it as far as we can. And we were lucky that it was accepted.”

He continued:

“There were hard, hard shoes to fill but we didn’t really think of it that way. It was just like, ‘Let’s do this. This will be great, they’ll love this!’ When I’d gotten into the band, it was the most coveted guitar position in the world at the time.

You were the guitar voice behind Dave Roth who people were used to hearing, and the chosen one himself – Edward. And I admired Edward so much. I love that old Van Halen stuff and he really revolutionized rock guitar.

So I couldn’t in my mind consider competing because it’s foolish! You can’t compete with Van Halen. So the way I looked at it was, ‘That was that, but now this is this, and I’m going to do my best to put my voice into it.’”

Steve Vai added:

“Because to try to sound like him would have been a terrible defeat. I didn’t feel any competition, I felt like he was an inspiration.

Van Halen was Van Halen, and Dave Roth had different aspirations in a sense to some degree.”

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